Best Travel Tips – Travelling to Israel

During the summer our family of five travelled across the ocean to Mr. L’s home country, Israel. This was our third family trip to this amazing country that is full of sea, sand and everything you need for a memorable experience.

In this first of a 3-part article series on the trip, I provide the Top 10 Family Friendly Places To Visit in Tel Aviv. 

Enjoy!

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An ode to True Love..

True love, unlike what it says in the Princess Bride..

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…does not always mean finding that perfect person – the soul mate which you spend the rest of your life. Nice ideals bred out of the romantic illusion sold over the last few hundred years since Prince Charming slipped that slipper on Cinderella’s foot.

For us, Valentine’s Day is a panicked rush where I scrounge to help three children make Valentine’s Day cards for their classes while loading them up with dollar store chocolates hoping most of them are nut free. Valentine’s Day means staying up late to set a table laden with felt hearts and small gifts because a tradition was inadvertently started when your eldest child was four years old and you are now locked into it –  even if all you want to do is get yourself to bed and watch a show on Netflix or read a book. Valentine’s Day means rushing home and not getting any work done because you need to make those chocolate heart cakes for their afternoon snacks – even if it is out of a box.  You do all of these things – even if you don’t want to –  because you’re a parent. If that isn’t true love, then I have no idea what is.

From what I have learned being a parent means living every day for true love.

You know it’s true love when:

  1. Get up early every morning to make sure little people get a half decent breakfast before school.
  2. Become a taxi cab driver who works for free and drives everywhere.
  3. Sleep in your car because you’re too tired to take a walk outside after the morning school drop off and ensuing arguments in the car because a kid forgot something.
  4. Wash and fold clothes non-stop. (Or until you give up and close the door pretending laundry doesn’t exist.)
  5. Give up caring how messy their rooms are because you want them to express themselves – even if it secretly drives you a little crazy.
  6. Still say “I love you” at the end of the day – even if they are being argumentative, moody or downright rude.
  7. Walk away – at any point – without losing your cool and put yourself in a time out.
  8. Try not to cry or make a big deal when they do the dishes for you without asking.
  9. Force yourself away from the playground after you heard someone was bothering them.
  10. Finally – you know it’s true love when you keep waking up each morning and say to yourself – “It’s a new day. Today will be better.” But you secretly know it will be the same and you get up anyway.

For all the tired parents out there who may wonder who are the people who go out for a nice adult dinner on Valentine’s Day – once your kids are off their chocolate highs from the copious amounts of candy they had at school (or brought home) – give yourself a pat on the back. You know what true love really is and you live it each and every day.

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The Tree.

A good friend of mine posted on her Facebook status the joy her Christmas tree was giving her this year and posted a picture of the tree. It is a beautiful tree and my heart was warmed as she shared her special moment of gratitude and family memories.

The room our Christmas tree is in, is the only, and I mean only, room in our house that is clutter free, toy free and is an oasis of calm. The room is quiet, clean, simply decorated and looks upon our quiet suburban street, except during December when our tree blocks our view, but sparkles wonderfully for all the neighbourhood to see. I love it and do not spend nearly enough time in it.

As I sipped the last of my wine, very late tonight, I took the glass into my little sanctuary and looked at our tree. Painstakingly decorated by three sets of little hands each one placing their own small but growing accumulation of decorations on the slim branches. Jacob, the little guy, insisted on putting every single decoration on, even those ones I had put to the side as “retired.” It is the first year all three of them have the ability to decorate most of the tree. Well, at least the lower half of the tree.

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As I gazed upon the twinkling white lights and thought…hmmm..there is a lot of red in this tree….I wondered what I thought of my tree. It’s pretty. Not real to my disappointment but a concession I made with a husband who had to acquiesce to having a tree in his home next to his menorah. It is not heavily decorated but I kind of like it that way. We added homemade garland from a craft my girls did with their grandmother a few weeks ago of pretty red and silver pipe cleaners pinched together with glittering beads circling the upper half of the tree. (Because I haven’t had time to go get the materials to continue the garland all the way to the bottom!) There are little stuffed snowman and woodland animals. Old wooden decorations of angels and jack-in-boxes. Shiny red and green balls hand painted with gold flowers and glitter from a long ago shopping trip. A star of David hangs proudly next to the driedel decoration, both gifts to my husband for being a good sport about our multi-faith household. Then I remember the cinnamon stick reindeer I still have that adorned a present one year from my grandmother or the Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas wooden decoration that was one of my first own decorations from years and years and years ago when I still lived at home. These are my precious ornaments, most of them gifts from my late maternal grandmother. In fact, the stuffed animals and tiny wooden decorations were things I inherited from her estate.

Every year I give each child a new decoration. I have done it since their first Christmas with the plan one day to pass  onto each of them their own decorations as they start their own family traditions, a long, long, long time from now. Many of our decorations mark a milestone for our children. Their first Christmas, their second Christmas etc…Elmo gave way to ballerinas which gave way to cute elves with first, middle and youngest decorations (and all Mom’s favourite) to fairly-traded sequinned hearts and stars or a carved wooden gingerbread man. Also our tree has many handmade decorations. Those decorations each child secretly worked on at school to bring home to us. I will never have the heart to dispose of these precious memories, especially if there is a picture attached.

So although our tree is eclectic, it really is a memory tree. It holds memories of a girl having Christmas at my grandparent’s farm to a teenager who rolled her eyes at a tacky glittering santa decoration from a well-intentioned grandmother but secretly stashed it for future use to buying my first grown-up set of beautiful red and green glass baubles. Our tree reflects that we respect different cultures and religions in our house and the birth of our first, second and third child. It holds their growth each year via pictures and their interests that arrive and flee so easily. The tree holds the memory of my grandmother who bought and passed on many of her own decorations so I could have a beautiful tree and perhaps, remember her a little each year.

As you decorate or gaze upon your tree this year, take a moment and reflect. What does it signify for you? Simply happy family time? A way to brighten up your room in a festive spirit? Or perhaps when you look again, your unique way of decorating the tree, tells you more than you realize. Embrace it. Remember it and have a wonderful holiday season!